Balancing Priorities in College

College is an awesome experience, especially at a university. So many opportunities are available to you, you have so much freedom, you make decisions based on what you want to do, and you're working toward what you want to spend the rest of your life doing. Although all of that is extremely exciting, it can also be extremely overwhelming. You have to figure out what you want to do for the rest of EVER, you have to make sure you're being responsible in the decisions that you're making, and you have to juggle the social, academic, and health aspects of your life.

It may be overwhelming and hard to balance everything, but it's doable! Here's how I've managed to maintain a pretty healthy balance in living a college lifestyle:

Make schoolwork your first priority.

Do you really want to write a paper instead of going to Chipotle with your friends? Of course not. But writing your paper, along with any other class work, is why you're here. We're all paying A LOT of money to get a quality education and ensure that we're going to live great, successful lives once we graduate. That should ALWAYS come first and foremost. Besides, procrastinating will just stress you out more in the end. And once you're done with your paper, you can celebrate by going to the Crimson Creamery for ice cream. It's a win win!

Try to maintain your health.

A very common fear of incoming college students is the dreaded Freshman Fifteen. It's real, I promise you. Although there are a lot of on campus food options, most of the food is high calorie and fattening. It can be really easy to chow down on two pieces of pizza, a breadstick, and a Coke, then go get ice cream or a cookie after. While that's fine every now and then, you will gain weight if you eat that way all the time. I personally keep groceries in my room, and almost everything I have is healthy. You don't need to be a health nut, but try to eat better options a few times a week and watch your portion sizes. I'm super excited for next year because I'll be living in Union Street Center, which is an on campus apartment complex, and I'll have a kitchen so I'll be able to cook my own meals.

Also take advantage of the resources that are available to you -- there are two on campus gyms, which you pay a fee for that's included in tuition. If you're paying for it, you might as well use it! I go to the SRSC five days a week. They have tons of group classes, along with two cardio rooms and two strength rooms. You can also use the pool while the swim and dive teams aren't practicing! Take advantage of it! While working out may sound like something you don't want to do, I promise you that you'll feel great when you're done.

In addition to that, try to avoid taking the bus unless you're sick or the weather is bad. We have a beautiful campus, walk to class and take it all in.

Make sure you're getting enough sleep too. Life becomes SO MUCH HARDER when you're sleep deprived!

You can also read my earlier post about the Freshman Fifteen here: /blog/alyssa-modos/the-terrors-of-the-infamous-freshman-15

Know your limits in partying.

IU is notorious for being a "party" school. I'd have to agree that it's true. That's not a bad thing though; partying is something that college in general is notorious for. If you like to go out, that's cool. If you don't like to go out, that's cool too. I personally don't like partying because, as we all know, partying comes with drinking, and I don't really like to drink. Does that mean I look down on people who do like it? Not at all. If you do go out though, make sure you know your limits and that you're with friends. A fun situation can turn bad really quickly. You've probably heard this from your mom and everyone else, but follow the common party rules: watch your cup/keep a hand over the opening, use the buddy system, etc.

It's also pretty common for parties to be thrown on weekdays. If that's something you want to do, just make sure you have all your work done, and don't get so white girl wasted that you can't make it to class the next day. Happy partying, friends.

Make time to hang out with friends and stay in touch with family.

You won't always have time to hang out with friends, but make sure you do at least a few times a week. It can be as simple as grabbing a meal together or just sitting in someone's room catching up. Even though this is a huge campus, it's surprising how easy it can be to feel alone. On that note, I've learned that you will make 98% of your friends during Welcome Week and the first month or so of school. Make sure you're taking part in all the fun stuff that goes on during Welcome Week; do NOT just sit in your dorm! You'll meet a lot of cool people, and I swear it's actually really hard to make lasting friends after September. BE SOCIAL DURING WELCOME WEEK.

Also make sure that you're staying in touch with your family. Sometimes it's hard because you're so busy, but try to call once a week or at least text. I call my mom whenever I'm walking to class, I send email updates once a week to my dad along with texting every now and then, I email and text my aunt a few times a week, and I try to call/text/email my grandparents once or twice a month. It's really easy to get homesick (which you can get tips on how to handle here: /blog/alyssa-modos/from-the-house-to-the-dorm-how-to-handle-being-homesick), so these little things can be important.

Don't make finding a girlfriend/boyfriend your main priority.

While it's nice to be in a relationship, you are a strong, independent person who came here to get a great education! Make that your main priority, boys and girls can wait (: Plus, college comes with what is known as "hookup culture". That basically means that a lot of students are just looking for someone to get sexual with without any emotional attachment. If you're into that, be safe and whatnot. Just beware of guys or girls who are only out for one thing if you're looking for a relationship!

If you need extra money, try to find a job.

That being said, also don't put too much on your plate. I had an interview at Subway at the beginning of this semester, but I didn't take the job because my course load is a lot heavier this semester than it was last semester, and I knew that my grades would suffer if I took on a job. If you can handle it, then that's awesome. If not, I wouldn't try it. You'll just have to make up for it with your summer job, I know that's my plan!

Another great option is finding an on campus job, like working at a library. During periods where there isn't anyone to help, you can do your school work. However, it's really hard to find a position in the middle of the school year; the best time to find one is at the beginning.

Lastly, get involved, but don't overwhelm yourself.

Sometimes it can be really frustrating to know that in addition to getting a degree, you have to have resume builders to make yourself more marketable. You've already got so much going on, right?! I know it can be hard sometimes, but try to partake in one extracurricular. It can be anything from an intramural team to student government to writing for We Are IU! Do something that you're genuinely interested in, or else you'll dread every second of it.

Hopefully all of this helped somewhat. It can be really stressful even thinking about juggling everything, but I promise that it's doable as long as you do everything in moderation. Except school work, do that to the fullest! And when you end up just getting too overwhelmed, you'll probably end up doing what the lovely diagram below says. I know I've succumbed to several Netflix binges and naps.

Funny story: Finite, which is a required math class, will be the death of you. It was the death of me. So one day I'm trying (and failing) to do my WebWork (homework you have to do on the computer), and I just cannot get any of the questions right. I've been attempting it for hours and it's just miserable. I finally get so frustrated that I call my mom and start hysterically bawling, while Megan is in the room, because I can't get the god forsaken WebWork questions right. After I calmed down, I threw in the towel and Megan and I went to get ice cream. So y'know, it happens to us all! Hopefully you're not as awful at math as I am.

Good luck (:

About The Author
Alyssa ModosEnglish Major, Future Book Editor, Class of 2018, Fort Wayne, IN

I'm an English major and Marketing minor with the dream of working for a Big Five publisher in the Big Apple.

I'm obsessed with my cat, I'm newly addicted to pineapple, and I like to go running for fun. When I'm not at the gym, you can find me buried under blankets in bed watching The Walking Dead. Every Friday is Pizza Friday at my place; it's my own little "slice" (heh heh) of IU Traditions and Spirit.

Follow me around online and through social media to get to know IU and how amazing it is. You'll get to know me, too -- I'm a pretty cool person, just throwing that out there. (:

Be sure to check me out on Spoon University (where I write about delicious, life-changing food) and The Odyssey (where I write about a little bit of everything).